As a whole, college admissions boards do a good job of weighing high school students’ GPAs and standardized test scores. There are a few areas the board looks at, and while it includes test scores, it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker on being accepted at a school.
A college admissions board knows that lower SAT scores don’t immediately mean that the applicant isn’t a good fit for a university. If a student has close to – or above – a 4.0 grade-point average, the standardized test score isn’t as crucial. For example, I had close to a 4.1 GPA when I graduated high school, but my SAT score was a 1200 (back when the maximum score was 1600). I also was in many clubs, was a varsity athlete, and I had a job. An admissions board could see that I was a well-rounded student that could take on multiple tasks and succeed. Taking a standardized test was my weakest link, but I was still accepted at Florida, Georgia, Ohio State, UNC-Asheville and Auburn.
On the other hand, admissions board at other schools might only look at one part of your SAT score, so the overall score doesn’t really matter. I had a friend who applied to Georgia Tech, one of the tougher universities in the Southeast. He had a 3.5 GPA with hardly any Advanced Placement courses, he participated in no extracurricular activities, and he had a 1210 SAT score. However, he had close to a 700 in the math and did horrible on the verbal portion. At Tech, math is highly regarded and English isn’t, so he was still accepted to the university despite the borderline scores.
Other colleges and universities also look at other standardized test scores. In addition to the SAT, the ACT is accepted as a test score at many schools, and studies have shown some people are better at the ACT than the SAT, and vice versa. College admissions boards are in that regard very flexible in how people perform differently in certain areas.
As long as you display talent in something, you likely will be able to get into a college, be it with a high GPA, a solid test score, display of leadership or other activities, or a little of everything. Everyone is different, and the SAT isn’t the ultimate deal-breaker if you can prove you’re well-rounded or good at one particular thing.